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How to Make Homemade India Ink

Updated February 21, 2017

India ink, or Indian ink or Chinese ink, is one of the most common inks used today in calligraphy, drawing and home or prison tattooing. It is simple to make and simple to use. It is most often used when doing brush work or drawing comic strips. India ink is one of the most preferred inks to use because it is permanent and simple to make from ingredients you can find at home.

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  1. Place the charcoal ash in the small bowl. Make sure that the bowl you choose is one that you don't mind having stained.

  2. Pour your distilled water into the bowl with the ash. Don't add it too fast or it will slosh onto your work surface. It will look soupy and some of the ash will begin to float.

  3. Stir the ash and water with the hard bristled brush. The mixture will start to look inky, which is what you want. Stir until all the clumps are gone and it is a nice smooth texture.

  4. Add the drop of vinegar. This is only to create stability in the ink once it has dried. Mix thoroughly into the water and ash solution so that it is thoroughly incorporated. Your ink is now ready to use.

  5. Place your ink in a Mason jar. The tighter the lid on the mason jar the better. If you can, find one of these jars that is ceramic instead of glass.

  6. Tip

    If your ink starts to clump, add a drop of water and mix it around. This will loosen up the mixture and make it more usable. Using a dark jar or container to keep your ink in will make it last longer. Keep a napkin or something to clean up any spills or messes because this ink will stain. Shake the bottle before every use to ensure your ink is mixed.


    Keep away from sunlight and heat. It will make your ink evaporate quickly. If your ink has separated don't use it. Shake it first to reconstitute; if this doesn't work, add a drop of water. If that doesn't work, make a fresh batch.

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Things You'll Need

  • 28.4gr charcoal ash
  • 29.6ml distilled water
  • 1 drop white vinegar
  • Small bowl
  • Hard bristled brush
  • Small Mason jar

About the Author

Nicole Ramage has been writing professionally since 2005. She holds a certification in professional cake decorating and creates and sells custom cakes. She also teaches arts and crafts, specializing in weddings and baking. She earned her ordained ministership in Washington and Oregon in 2009 and an Associate of Applied Science in professional baking from Clark College.

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